Born in the 90s, bistronomy is all about enjoying quality ingredients and superb cooking in a warm, friendly environment. A major influence in today’s gastronomic evolution, is this trend which is transforming the restaurant scene as we know it. Let’s take a look at how bistronomy has popularised the luxury of fine-dining.
The Birth of a New Culinary Art
In 1992, Yves Camdeborde was a promising young chef, honing his skills in the kitchens of the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon under the attentive eye of head chef Christian Constant. But, Camdeborde, a true lover of fine cuisine, grew tired of the sober atmosphere and extortionate bills of these top-end restaurants. So he opened La Régalade in the 14th arrondissement, just metres away from the roar of Paris’ ‘périphérique’. On the menu you’ll find terrines, fried eggs and other traditional French recipes, all revamped with the technique and discipline of gourmet cuisine, and using the best seasonal produce. In Paris he explains: “I replaced the silverware and waiters with warmth and atmosphere, and finally got to know my customers! My recipes are 50% gastro and 50% bistro. The base is bistro: sardines, mackerel, pork feet, but the cooking is gastro: order, discipline and technique”. The menu is priced at 18 euros, far from the 75 euro menus of Paris’ most prized locations. And so the trend was born, and Sébastien Demorand gave bistronomy its name.
Derided as old fashioned, La Régalade was rejected by food critics. But Camdeborde gradually gained the success he deserved by serving the best gastronomy at affordable prices, building the bridge between popular and haute-cuisine. Now both regulars and celebrities are embracing this honest food movement. Although the ingredients are less extravagant, there’s certainly nothing lacking in taste or flavour.
The success was huge and the trend has firmly established its place – maybe even the top spot – on the culinary scene. Today, ‘le Fooding’ actually struggles to count all the bistronomic restaurants in Paris!
Over the years, like so many hybrid words, the term now encompasses a load of ideas…All the best chefs are at it, from Joël Robuchon to Guy Savoy, who have complemented their Michelin star establishments with some more casual eateries.
And a new generation of chefs are joining this culinary wave, with smaller rooms, fewer staff, great ingredients, outstanding cooking, and warm atmosphere, for no more than 30 or 40 euros. Bistronomy is about simplicity and not about the Michelin Guide (at least when it comes to presentation). Yet still these restaurants are making international rankings. For example, the king of neo-bistronomy (bistronomy that is slightly more advanced and expensive) Iñaki Aizpitarte, and his restaurant Chateaubriand, came 9th in the 2011 World’s 50 Best Restaurants. He’s not the only one winning awards…
How has 25 years of bistronomy shaped our culinary landscape?
As the current leader in culinary trends, bistronomy has transformed what it means to be a top restaurant.
- First off, it’s put the emphasis back on using the best produce at the heart of cooking. There’s no need for luxurious ingredients, it’s much better to use locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, supporting independent farming along the way.
- It’s made gastronomy widely available – the techniques and love of great taste – and now you can experience fine dining in familiar places with prices that are finally affordable.
- It’s inspired the most famous restaurants embellished with Michelin stars, encouraging them to focus on simple meals à la carte.
- On a global scale, bistronomy seems to have reignited the French love for their gastronomic heritage, producing a cuisine that’s no longer exclusive to the kitchens of luxury restaurants.
But chefs do have one concern: this style of cooking is gradually becoming standardised along with its techniques and ingredients. For a while now, bistronomy seems to have reached its limits and it’s proving difficult to create new and exciting dishes. One answer? Take the trend around the world. The more countries bistronomy reaches, the more innovation, variety and exquisite dishes will flourish.
Bistronomy at La Belle Assiette
Bistronomy is cherished at La Belle Assiette and practised by many of our chefs. You’ll find plenty in our first three menu ranges: Temptation, Prestige and Signature.
And finally, we suggest that you discover a fantastic tribute to bistronomy with Mike Taylor’s wonderful Luxury Fish Dinner Menu which includes 6 bistronomic dishes! Maybe not quite what you’re looking for over the summer…but definitely once the temperatures begin to cool.
Chef Laurent Maire – ‘Lemon, sesame, pepper, aromatic young shoots, flower petals, quinoa, cardamom, coriander, scallops’